Fort Worth's once-neglected West Magnolia Avenue is back—in a big way. On a 20-block stretch comprising the commercial heart of the rejuvenated Near Southside district, a bona fide restaurant row has evolved, and West Magnolia is now the place where ambitious chefs aspire to hang a shingle. Sure, you'll encounter a handful of boutiques, too—the SiNaCa School of Glass and Gallery (sinacastudios.org) is well worth a visit—but the primary draw is dining. Expect to find white-hot restaurants and watering holes (most with patio seating). Don't miss the free concerts (from April to October) at Magnolia Green (nearsouthsidefw.org).
Occupying a beautifully renovated 1920 service station, the genteel Ellerbe Fine Foods restaurant woos with Southern charm, an enticing wine list, and a menu laden with dishes crafted from local farm goods. The menu changes seasonally, but during a recent visit, favorite noshing choices included Louisiana crawfish étouffée, sherry-braised rabbit, pancetta-wrapped rainbow trout, and hummingbird trifle. 1501 W. Magnolia Avenue. 817-926-3663; ellerbefinefoods.com.
At Fixture-Kitchen and Social Lounge, comfort food gets a chic twist in modern yet cozy digs. Beet fries served with a spicy aioli are downright addictive, as are green chile grits crowned with sautéed Gulf shrimp. The roasted duck hash is excellent. 401 W. Magnolia Avenue. 817-708-2663; fixturefw.com.
Lili's Bistro was a pioneer when it opened on Magnolia in 2007, and this laid-back hangout with exposed brick walls and live piano music earns its loyal clientele with dishes such as gorgonzola waffle fries, chicken breast stuffed with tamal and cornbread dressing, and lobster ravioli. Among vegetarian offerings, the roasted poblano chile is sublime. 1310 W. Magnolia Avenue. 817-877-0700; lilisbistro.com.
Clean lines and warm colors define the petite dining room at Paco's Mexican Cuisine, where flavors from Mexico's interior hold court. Rich queso fundido with crab makes the perfect starter, followed by main dishes such as Veracruz-style trout, and pork tenderloin with quail in velvety green and dark red moles. 1508 W. Magnolia Avenue. 817-759-9110; pacoscuisine.com.
A favorite place on Magnolia to get a caffeine fix, Avoca is also a fine spot to catch up on email or simply while away the hours with friends at community tables, two-tops, or couches. Try the pour-over espresso, a cold brew, or a latte topped with exquisite foam art. Nibble on locally made pastries, too. 1311 W. Magnolia Avenue. 682-233-0957; avocacoffee.com.
Grand Cru, a self-proclaimed wine bar and boutique, serves as a quiet retreat for enjoying wines from around the world by the glass, flight, or bottle. Most are also offered for take-away purchase. Be sure to order a small plate of fig-prosciutto-goat cheese bites to accompany the vino. 1257 W. Magnolia Avenue. 817-923-1717; grandcrumagnolia.com.
Head to Proper, a tiny, friendly craft cocktail bar, to enjoy the jukebox and quaff specialty drinks. On pretty evenings, the outdoor patio is perfect. 409 W. Magnolia Avenue. 817-984-1133; propermagnolia.com.